Artist impression of red blood cells and bacterium within circulatory system

New trial to examine treatment for sepsis in Covid-19 patients

As with any other infection, patients suffering from Covid-19 are at risk of developing sepsis. Backed by NIHR support and funding, researchers are now set to investigate ways of improving the use of antibiotics to help treat patients.

Sepsis is a life-threatening reaction to an infection within a person’s body, which occurs when the person’s immune system overreacts to the infection; potentially leading to organ failure or even death.

Most Covid-19 patients admitted to hospital develop lung infections, such as pneumonia. Among critically ill patients, the progression to sepsis is a common cause of Covid-19 related deaths.

There is also an increased risk of developing sepsis among people who have survived the virus, during their recovery period.

In response to the heightened risk, NIHR aims to further fund and support the ADAPT-Sepsis study, started in 2017 and led by researchers at Salford Royal NHS FT, which aims to make antibiotic prescribing for critically ill patients with suspected sepsis more effective and targeted.

As part of the study, experts are examining whether one of two different markers in the blood is more effective to guide doctors on the safe use of antibiotics.

The team has now began incorporating seriously ill Covid-19 patients in their work and is one of a number of Covid-related studies to have been given urgent public health research status by the Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England.

The incorporation of Covid-19 cases in the research is of particular importance for severe infections caused by coronavirus as there is no evidence that antibiotics are effective at treating viral infections.

Chief Investigator Professor Paul Dark, Consultant in Critical Care Medicine at Salford Royal and Professor of Critical Care Medicine at The University of Manchester and the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre said: “During the first wave of the pandemic, there was widespread use of antibiotics in hospitalised patients with severe pneumonia and sepsis as a result of Covid-19.

“Research suggests that overuse of antibiotics is associated with further risk of hospital-acquired infection and sepsis as patients recover which can be even more difficult to treat.

“This is why it is so important that hospital staff have the best possible guidance on antibiotic treatment decisions in adult patients with severe pneumonia and sepsis.

“As we go into winter and the second wave of the pandemic, we expect to see more patients with viral and bacterial respiratory infections and this study has a vital role in how we look after them and future patients.

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